I have always been the sort of person that appreciates aesthetics which I think are an outward expression of a person’s creativity.
I wrote here about how I decided to buy no clothes for myself for a year. Confronted by our consumer culture and my own guilty part in it, as well as trying to raise my daughter and sons with the values I deeply believe in, I was surprise by how much I wanted to do this and was also scared that I was too weak to carry out this commitment. A part of me also wondered how I might change if I weren’t so conscious of myself and weren’t “consuming” all the time. In just a few months I am aware of how much we HAVE.
God has worked on my relationship to money for years, especially when I quit working (for money) nine years ago.
My relationship with money is somewhat dysfunctional. Being a missionary kid, I grew up with hand-me-downs (from my sister, who got them from the missionary barrel. Yes, there is such a thing. A place where missionaries go to get clothing others have discarded. Like the Goodwill, but free.) So as a teen I became laser sharp in my awareness of the latest styles which I would never have. It was an unhealthy habit but I spent lots of internal energy on my lack. Although my parents were good and generous people, and we never really lacked anything important, I thought we did. I always had what I needed, but not what I wanted.
So as an adult God has been pruning away at my fixation on external. The thing in me when I am down on campus that notices subtle changes in college style trends. Or what’s happening in magazines. Or what the old money people wear and have. I see these things and I want their life. I pay attention. And I really loath it, but it’s been a long road of coming to believe that it really matters not a whit in who I am. Not really. A Land Rover versus a Honda. A Coach bag vs. TJMaxx. Cashmere vs. a blend. Anthropolie vs.IKEA. My mind is always running on these lines and I know it is superficial and ugly. I am loved without all that, … aren’t I …
But the missionary kid in hand-me-downs just isn’t quite sure she believes.
My thoughts are very often superficial. I’ve had the moments in the last two months of freaking out as I really, really want something and then I breathe and step back and realize there is very little that I actually need. As I walk away from a pair of boots, I realize that what I have is enough. And I am so blessed and it is sufficient. And besides in my current life of slogging after children, and trooping around town to carry out various tasks, my feet simply need comfort and warmth, not style!
After the first few days of living with this pledge it was a matter of changing my mindset of always being on the prowl for the “find” — the deal I can’t live without — and I found I actually began to have much more time, energy and confidence for new ideas and what I might do with my time and resources. I had a lot of ideas. And a flurry of writing. And my mind and heart were full of potential.
I have much more empathy. I spent a recent snow day worrying over and over again about the school kids who I know eat breakfast and lunch at school — would they be hungry today? Would their parent/s have to miss work or would those kids spend the day unsupervised, while I and my children enjoyed snow angels, hot chocolate and baking cookies.
Our abundance overwhelms me and I hope I am more present in our bounty.
So although I am still aware of what others are wearing, conscious of magazines and television’s pressures, this adventure of living without new clothes is helping me learn a little better who I am. I have more time to BE. And to hangout and do things with my kids, and that can’t be purchased!
It really is priceless.